10 Strategies for Minimizing Patient Access Friction Points

3 min read

The healthcare call center serves as the gateway to care, meaning it significantly impacts the patient experience as the critical first step in the patient journey. From prolonged wait times and convoluted automated menus to difficulties obtaining accurate information, friction points in patient access can lead to frustration, negatively coloring the care experience to follow. Developing strategies to combat obstacles in access is crucial to patient satisfaction and your access center's ability to support your practice's evolving needs.

1. Streamline Call Routing

Studies show that a single transfer lowers satisfaction ratings by 12%. Implement an efficient call routing system that quickly directs patients to the appropriate department or agent based on their needs. This reduces the chances of patients being transferred multiple times, minimizing frustration and wait times. New technologies, like conversational AI, can assist in creating efficiencies before patients reach an agent— to the benefit of patients and providers alike.

2. Invest in Training and Development

Ensure that call center agents are well-trained and equipped with the necessary skills to handle patient interactions effectively. This includes training on active listening, empathy, and effective communication techniques. Well-prepared agents can address patient concerns more efficiently, reducing friction points, but a culture that emphasizes empathy helps ensure patients feel heard and supported.

3. Implement Call Center Performance Metrics

Establish key performance metrics to monitor call center performance and identify areas for improvement. Metrics such as average call handling time, first-call resolution rate, and customer satisfaction scores can help identify pain points and guide improvements— but make sure performance metrics are aligned with the realities of patient access. Many typical KPIs do not directly translate to a healthcare setting.

Read more about performance metrics in a healthcare call center here.

4. Provide a Comprehensive Knowledge Base

Call center agents should be equipped with a comprehensive knowledge base that contains up-to-date information about services, procedures, and common patient inquiries, allowing them to provide accurate and timely information and reducing the need for patients to seek additional assistance. Likewise, having clear and established guidelines is essential. Whether it's an internal or call center partnership, guidelines for operations can simplify implementing technology tools (like AI-assisted IVRs or performance tracking).

5. Offer Self-Service Options

Utilize available technologies to implement self-service options that allow patients to tackle simple tasks such as prescription refills or FAQs without agent assistance. Empowering patients to access information and perform tasks independently reduces the need for call center interactions, improving speed and quality metrics by freeing agents for more personalized tasks— boosting the patient experience for those who require an agent.

6. Improve Call Center Technology

Investing in modern call center technology can enhance efficiency and the patient experience. There is a myriad of options, including call queuing systems, customer relationship management (CRM) software, and integrated communication platforms that enable seamless interactions and information sharing. Call center technology rapidly evolves, and continuous upgrades can be expensive and challenging. Providers may want to weigh employing a call center service provider in order to reap the benefits of the latest communication trends.

Learn how to address the question of DIY or BUY in our white paper.

7. Optimize Call Center Workflow

Analyze and streamline call center workflows to minimize delays and bottlenecks. Identify areas where processes can be optimized or automated to improve efficiency and reduce patient wait times. This process should be conducted in tantum with efforts to streamline call routing, improve agent training, and implement self-service technologies to be truly effective.

8. Enhance Call Center Accessibility

Ensure that your call center is accessible to patients with different communication needs. Offer options such as TTY services for individuals with hearing impairments or language interpretation services to serve diverse patient populations effectively.

9. Implement Post-Call Surveys

In the modern healthcare market, earning patients' loyalty is becoming harder and harder. Conducting post-call surveys to gather patient feedback about their call center experiences is an easy way to illustrate to patients that their opinions matter while gaining insights into the exact points of contention in your access experience. This valuable feedback allows you to make data-driven enhancements to operations.

10. Analyze Call Center Data

Modern engagement tools and cutting-edge technologies like conversational AI have taken call monitoring to new levels in terms of analysis. Now, call centers can go beyond the standard performance metrics to dive deep into patient and agent sentiment. Regularly analyzing call center data to identify trends, patterns, and recurring issues offers a way to proactively address common patient concerns and friction points, improving the overall patient experience and opening the door for continuous improvement.

In order to stay competitive, providers must meet patients at the door with a high level of service. The strategies outlined here can minimize call center friction points, leading to smoother interactions, improved patient satisfaction, and enhanced overall patient access experience.

Need help optimizing your call center? We do that. Contact us for an obligation-free consultation today.